almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983

This is a glorious rant on the value of keyboard interfaces and how fragile a lot of current GUI experiences are. I can’t help but think about the tapping shenanigans I see when a store uses an iPad-based POS system.

3 thoughts on “almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983

  1. The response to this (I didn’t read all of it, just the first 30 tweets or so, because ironically this rant is on Twitter, a platform that is completely incompatible with this kind of infodump) is as simple as it is tragic: people prefer an interface that looks like every other interface they use, even if it’s less-good at its core functions. It means that a person with essentially no training, can drop on and do a few basic things, whether or not they can be a “power-user.”

    We use a powerful and fast keyboard-based system at my office that takes months to learn at a level of mastery, and another one that’s slower, but can be taught in half an hour.

    As a result, nobody who has started at my office since the introduction of the latter system has learned the former. It’s too idiosyncratic, and too clunky for anyone who doesn’t use it every day, despite being much more powerful and, yes, faster.

  2. Although I agree that specialized input setups work faster, and that we’re pretty shitty about cross-reference usage in programs… there’s two things I think play a big part:

    1) Not EVERYTHING is a speed game. The point about Twitter only having X number of responses? Sure. But people aren’t on Twitter to speed power through data and like/retweet friends’ stuff. They’re perusing mostly. So if the interface is slow but simple, it fits the need of the general use of the site.

    2) Part of the mess with Google maps, and too many other apps in general, is the desire to keep adding features without any training on how to access them and how they work, usually with a UI overhaul in the process.

    It’s the frustration you get when you work with a version of Photoshop that’s too many steps removed from the ones you’re familiar with – “I know what I WANT to do, I don’t know where you’ve put the option in this version”.

    I actually become really angry when apps just switch up the UI on me because it means all my muscle memory is rendered useless and I have to effectively relearn the UI. Along with that, 90% of the information I might look up on how to access a certain feature is probably out of date and referring to the old UI.

  3. Chris Chinn What he’s saying about Twitter reminds me a lot of when I used to use Pine for email back in the day. Dealing with my inbox was much faster. I can see Twitter actually benefitting from this kind of of interface, especially if you follow a lot of people. Lots of short messages + spanning for the important ones = usefulness of a keyboard interface.